WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are deeply divided along party lines in their views of President Donald Trump’s actions in the most recent criminal cases brought against him, a new poll shows, with about half saying his alleged attempt to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 vote count was illegal.
The poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which was conducted before Monday’s charges in the Georgia case, also shows that about half of Americans — 53% — approve of the Justice Department indicting Trump over his efforts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election.
The poll finds 85% of Democrats approve of the criminal charges brought on Aug. 2 by Special Counsel Jack Smith, compared with 47% of independents and just 16% of Republicans. Overall, 3 in 10 Americans disapprove, including about two-thirds of Republicans.
The survey suggests that the unprecedented indictments of a former president have done little to shake up a fundamental divide in the electorate: The majority of Americans disapprove of Trump, but he remains popular within the GOP.
Overall, 35% of Americans have a favorable view of Trump and 62% unfavorable. Among Republicans, though, seven in 10 view the former president favorably, and about 6 in 10 say they want him to make another run for the White House.
The poll was conducted Aug. 10-14 , before Trump and 18 of his allies were indicted Monday in Georgia over their efforts to overturn the state’s election results but with strong indications that charges were imminent. At the time of the survey, 51% of U.S. adults believed Trump acted illegally in that case, including 16% of Republicans. That’s consistent with an AP-NORC poll conducted in June.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and says the charges against him are politically motivated as he seeks a rematch against Democratic President Joe Biden.
Only about 2 in 10 U.S. adults — 17% — say they have “a great deal” of confidence in the people running the Justice Department. The low level of confidence spans the political spectrum, with just 26% of Democrats, 14% of independents and 7% of Republicans saying they have a great deal of confidence in the federal law enforcement agency. About half of Americans have “only some” confidence in DOJ, while about a third have “hardly any confidence at all.” Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to have hardly any confidence in the Justice Department, 48% to 18%.
“Trump is obviously running for president and the sitting administration is pushing to have their political rival arrested and put in jail,” said Cary Arnold, a 56-year-old Republican from Eldersburg, Maryland. “Just on the surface that’s a very, very bad look. That’s something that you would expect to see in third world countries that are run by dictators.”
Trump’s actions did not cross the line to merit criminal charges, he said.
“I have not seen anything that seemed to be illegal,” Arnold said. “I know people have said that he did things illegally, but none of the things that they’ve said make any sense.”